I walked a half-mile of wet sand this evening.
Stepping two bare feet in salted, sighing recessions,
I crossed a chorus,
grace, upon grace,
The seaside runs white-laced and popping,
sizzles, tickles my ankles, sucks at my toes,
impresses the full-roaring strength of mighty miles of ocean
soft as a husband upon land-sore bones.
Waves tease the earth out from below my weight
until I laugh,
arms cast out like a child catching her balance.
I am vain enough to measure my own feet
against the prints others have left.
It is because they are ugly and too big,
that they leave no mark at all upon the sand.
I have learned to place them lightly, at least.
In the secrecy of evening,
I press my sole into forms left by the beautiful ones
like a servant trying on crowns.
I feel the cool, deep heel caves left by the confident,
and I wonder what it is like
to pass the earth with such surety.
Here is a neat, even row of toes.
They dig each step into earth
as if they might cling to it.
And see there! Such pretty, high arches.
A dancer, perhaps?
Someone holds those feet in his lap at night.
He touches them and is proud of them.
He marvels at their delicacy.
It takes courage to align my foot
against the expanse left by a workshoe.
Mine is smaller by two inches.
I am less than I have thought,
“Love, upon love,
such vast deep love.”
The seaside sighs,
as if it meant love for me;
and so I walk lightly,
leaving no trace,
afraid of breaking the spell.
Pelicans, seven in a line,
fly bellies nearly touching water top,
rise like notes on a page.
Black-legged birds with yellow socks
run silly from waves,
making a spectacle of themselves.
A lost feather rolls in the recession,
a third of a cigarette,
broken brown shells and blue ones turning,
one perfect white half shell,
Against the rain-pocked sand,
each wave yawns higher,
makes a mirror,
casts the blushing sky back to the heavens.